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MONCTON, N.B. — A New Brunswick judge who sentenced a woman to one year in jail after the remains of her newborn baby were found on a remote logging road says she showed a high degree of callousness in her actions.
Christine Margaret Wood of Riverview was facing several charges in the death of the boy, who was found in a snowbank in 2009.
She pleaded guilty in August to neglecting to obtain assistance in childbirth, concealing the body of a child and offering an indignity to human remains. A charge of attempted murder was dropped.
The boy’s body was discovered by a group of people riding dirt bikes on a logging road near Monteagle, N.B.
The baby is legally Baby Boy Doe, but became known as Baby Taylor in the weeks after his body was discovered based on the name of the road where he was found.
In court on Friday, Crown attorney Stephen Holt said Wood tried to conceal her pregnancy from friends and family, and denied her condition when asked by a neighbour.
Wood was unco-operative with police when they acted on a tip so they put her under surveillance, he said, eventually collecting DNA from two cigarette butts that proved she was the mother.
Holt said Wood became pregnant in 2008.
“This was not a happy realization. She did not want the baby,” he said.
On Dec. 13 or 14, 2008, Wood went into labour. She ran a full bath and gave birth underwater, saying she may have passed out during delivery, Holt said.
Wood said the baby was floating in the water and was dead, Holt told the court.
He said Wood told police she put the baby’s remains in a garbage bag in her room and then the trunk of her car for a few days, before putting them in a garbage can. She later went to Taylor Road, soaked the garbage can with gas, lit it and left, he said.
Holt said at one point before it was found a snowplow hit the garbage can.
He recommended a sentence of two years in prison and lengthy probation. “This is a woman who showed no remorse until she was arrested,” he said.
But defence lawyer Scott Fowler asked the court for a conditional sentence, stressing it was not a case of infanticide or murder.
“There was no evidence the child was born alive,” he said.
“This is a young woman who was alone and made horrible decisions.”
Wood sat alone in the back of the court during the sentencing hearing and made a brief statement when offered a chance to speak.
“I would just like to say, your honour, that I am sorry and I would like to thank those who showed me compassion,” she told the court.
In delivering his sentence, provincial court Judge Denis Lordon agreed that the pathologist was unable to determine if the baby was born alive but it was a full-term pregnancy.
“The degree of culpability in my estimation is very high. There is a complete concealment of the fact of pregnancy,” said Lordon, who also sentenced Wood to two years’ probation.
“There was absolutely no attempt to get any kind of medical intervention. There is no preparation for the birth of a baby who was going to leave that bathroom alive. And the callousness with which the matter was handled after the birth of that child is most alarming and worthy of condemnation.”
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
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